Category Archives: Book Reviews

World Mental Health Day: Questions to Dyane Harwood Author, Birth of a New Brain (Healing From Postpartum Bipolar Disorder)


Birth of a new brain cover

Dyane Harwood’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) is published by Post Hill Press this very October 10th 2017.

It’s available on Kindle and paperback

Hello World, today on this very special day, I mean very, very special day: Today is World Mental Health Day and the Birth of Dyane Harwood’s long awaited literary baby; I have the singular honour, pleasure and modesty to interview my dear friend, one I fondly call Lady D and The Captain – the author, dynamic wife and mother par excellence. I connected with Dyane early into my blogging adventures, and we have stayed friends since then. I still look forward to visiting Dyane in her corner of the Western Coast in the US, and take a “redwood bath” with her and her famous Scottish collie Lucy.

I salute Dyane’s courage to go through with it and not give up. Dyane is equally a seasoned author and has written for the Huffington Post, SELF Magazine, BP (Bipolar) Magazine, and more. With this said, I’ll interview her for your reading pleasure and let her tell us more about herself and her life journey, mindful of her postpartum bipolar disorder diagnosis.

1) The Profile

1. Let’s Start with a brief introduction of yourself – your background – and a tiny bit about your Childhood:
Hello, my dear friend Lady Marie! I grew up in Los Angeles, California with my brother Martin and of course a dog – an Irish Setter named Amber! We had two very loving parents and many blessings; however, it was a difficult childhood as my father had bipolar one disorder and his mental illness took its toll on our family.

2. About your Memoir, how did you come up with the title – you must admit it is one of its kind?
I love my title! Originally I titled the book Quest for Rest because when I began writing it in 2007, I was manic and hypergraphic (which is excessive compulsive, writing associated with bipolar mania and epilepsy, of all things, Marie!) — later on, I switched titles because I no longer felt attached to Quest for Rest. Birth of a New Brain simply popped into my mind and felt right.

2) The Soul Journey

1. I lost my only brother to bipolar disorder and its complications – hence I dread the word and diagnosis; what’s your take on that word?
I cannot STAND the word “bipolar”! I agree with Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, the author of the classic memoir An Unquiet Mind, who prefers “manic depression.” I think that term describes the mood disorder so much better than “bipolar”ever could. It’s just a really dumb word and to be honest, I have problems saying it out loud.

2. How did you get your diagnosis and how have you fared since that diagnosis?
In 2007, approximately six weeks postpartum, I voluntarily admitted myself into the local psychiatric unit as I was manic. I was diagnosed at that unit and it took me seven years to find the right medications to help me. During that time I went through two phases in which I tried to live without medications; one of those phases involved a very slow, systematic tapering schedule that I had researched before undertaking it. I do not want to sound like a drama queen, but I almost died after each attempt to live meds-free. However, some people can live with bipolar and stay stable without taking medications.

3. How have you been coping with your mental illness and yet still been able to function at times enough to write and publish?
The book has been the most challenging project of my life. When I finally secured a publisher, I found the entire process was far more difficult than I had imagined. I coped fairly well although I ate a ton of sweets and gained 15 pounds despite using Lose It! And exercising! My medications and having a stable, loving family complete with Lucy the Scottish Collie/Writing Muse enabled me to get through it all.

3) The Writing

1. Did any books/memoirs influence your writing (style, presentation, content)?
Oh yes! Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison’s memoir and books by Madeleine L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time) and L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables) have influenced my writing, but there are many other books that affected me too! I have a list of some of them in the book’s appendix section.

2. Did you have a writing mentor?
Wendy K. Williamson (author of the bestseller I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar and the co-author of 2 Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival) believed in my writing, and she inspired me to “go for it” in terms of sending my proposal to publishers.

3. Which was the most difficult chapter to write in your memoir and why?
That’s a great question. I’d definitely say the “One Pill Can Kill” chapter about how taking one Elavil (amitriptyline) pill made me acutely suicidal and when I realized what was happening to me, I asked to be taken to the emergency room at the hospital. I won’t go into other details (and I don’t go much into them in the book because I felt there were plenty of books about that topic already – it didn’t seem necessary) but I also want to say that this specific medication works well for other people! We all know medications affect every person differently…thus the need for caution when trying a new medication and have someone on hand to observe your reaction to it if it all possible!!!

To be cont’d tomorrow, kindly visit again…

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My Book reviewed: What is the Worst Case Scenario…


What is the worst case scenario

If there is one thing I know,that is very difficult to tell some other person,talkless of “truth”.

I must congratulate the author for this heart pouring exercise she has embarked on. Telling the world your story and giving a damn about “what people will say” about her personality, her work(s), is aplaudable.

The book and other works of hers, acts as an eye opener to me and I quess to a lot more people in the world;

  1. The way I look at and how to help a sufferer;

  2. How I can join the author and many others in the world to advocate for mentally sick persons;

  3. How I can contribute to campaign against stigmatization.

Barrister Marie A. Abanga,is giving a positive light to all who let FEAR conquer them. She is encouraging us all that our fears are just False Emotions Appearing Real and as such, we should not Fold Everything and Run. Rather, we should Face Everything and Rise.

Indeed, ”Abanga Marie was here; she lived; she loved; she was here” and the world will remember her for such unconditional love and efforts shown to humanity.

The question to me and to you out here is

*what have you offer?

PLAY YOUR ROLE POSITIVELY,and help HUMANITY.

Ndzo Ethel Fonjie

P.S: Today has been a tough day because I am sad at the current bloodshed in my country and somehow couldn’t focus enough to get through my todolist for the day. I spent time reading and listening to helpful podcasts and tried to do a little you know. This book review just came in to make my day. I am very grateful to Ethel and all who have read my books and gotten back to me through any medium

Book Review: Speak Up Stand Out and Shine by Regina Huber


Stand Up Speak out and Shine

Hello world, call it review fever if you please: but, this girl here reads books like you’d drink milk lol; and she likes to share her thoughts on those books when they get to her soul. For me to start a new week with a book review speaks for itself – that is if the title of the book doesn’t do it enough justice.

Let me just dash in, this because on a Monday morning we all want to get it started and off to the maximum we can before the ‘blues’ set in right? I mean this is one of the many powerful things I learnt in this book (I never knew I could fall in love with a self help book), you can zap from ‘freaking out to freaking amazing’ with determination and dedication. You may need help but it is possible. You will need to be authentic and confident always, and know today if you never did or were not sure of it, that your vulnerability is a strength and not a weakness. Come on now give me more vulnerable situations…anytime anywhere…exploit them and let them catapult you to speak up, stand out and shine… I mean why settle for victim and throw all those endless pity parties while people around you who may have even gone through worst are now making a healthy and wealthy living sharing their stories?

Now, have you heard of power dance? Regina introduces this in her book. Give it a try, musn’t be an entire song and that can be anywhere anytime. And when you are one of those I used to be…you know the one who will shake and panic and worry about all what will, would, could go wrong right up to outright freezing on the podium, be it because you forgot your message or one ‘vampire’ in the audience shot you that ‘stare’; you will witness a radical and permanent transformation after reading this book.

All in all, this book is not only for those starting out into their speaking journies whichever category, but also for those of us some where in between. I give this book a 5 star because I honestly feel Regina wrote way too much to get anyone even in elementary school to be able to speak up, stand out and shine.

About Regina Huber

Regina Huber

Regina Huber, is the Founder & CEO of Transform Your Performance http://www.transformyourperformance.com

Drawing from my extensive corporate experience in six countries, I have developed a top Transformational Leadership Practice for Business Women, and I am now known as a Power Shifter and Career Accelerator, Diversity & Co-Creation Advocate, Speaker with a Passion for Dance, and Author of Speak up, Stand out and Shine – Speak Powerfully in Any Situation, as seen in this Huffington Post article:

With her signature system, Powerful Leadership Transformation (PLT), she works with companies to transform top female performers into top leaders so they can make a bigger impact and generate more business for companies, clients, and themselves. With her guidance, organizations can unlock the strengths of the talent they already have, to cut down on turnover costs. Regina focuses on driving fast results for her coaching clients by emphasizing an empowering mindset and a compelling, confident presence, enabling them to accelerate their careers, while making an outstanding contribution to their organizations.

She speak five languages and has over 18 years of international experience in the corporate business world, including management positions at The Boston Consulting Group in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America, where my primary focus was on HR; career & performance management; training & talent development; operations & budgeting; and office build-outs. At BCG, she also had a leading role in opening two new offices in Portugal and Brazil, as well as several international projects throughout Europe and Latin America. As an entrepreneur, She has owned two businesses in Argentina and Brazil, and has translated 12 books on dance, culture, politics and science. Her eclectic background allowed her to develop a special skill set that flows into herunique transformational approach.

She is a Certified Leadership Ambassador by Take The Lead Women and serve as Co-Chair of the NYC Financial Women’s Association’s (FWA) Distinguished Speakers Committee. It is her honor to be a trusted advisor of UN Global Champion for Women’s Empowerment in Entrepreneurship Alysia Silberg’s Fireside Chat and Pitch Camp communities for global entrepreneurs, and a leading member of Alysia’s Global Women Game Changers group. Studying Judith Glaser’s “C-IQ for Coaches” Program (Creating WE Institute) has allowed her to enhance her current focus on co-creation and to coach team leaders to navigate successfully through conversation. She am also a Premier member of Women Speakers Association (WSA) and a member of West Coast Speakers Coalition.

P.S: Ok world, I stop at that, Ms Huber’s profile is clearly longer than my review of her book and am jealous. I have already audited with her you know, and I will be signing up to be coached by her once a fortune cookie is left by my office …

Book Review: High Tide Low Tide The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder


High Tide Low Tide

Unconditional Friendship tested in dire times of need and deed

This memoir is like none I have ever read before in the sense that it literally took me through high tides and low tides before I found a balance again. I am not the first reviewer of this book to say it is not a read for the faint of heart. The authors when I interviewed them told me it was merely their intention to share their complex friendship between one ‘well’ person and one ‘unwell’ person, made all the more intriguing by the over 3000 miles seperating them. Indeed, they have physically met only once and yet, Martin Baker (the well friend), is from every indication Fran Houston’s (the unwell friend) main carer. How wouldn’t he be when we know (and I know from personal experience) how easy it is to lose relationships with both friends and family when you live with a mental illness.

This memoir will challenge you and your beliefs especially about mental illness, inform you, soothe you and yes challenge you again to be and do better, be you well or unwell. One thing I find interesting is how the friendship is not only so open, but how both friends are candidly so honest with each other. They have some mantras I am already copying and loving such as Care but not Control;  Give me what I need and not what you think I need; and many more al so soul searching. It is simply awesome to read all this. The way they virtually go on trips, navigate their days and engagements and plan joint projects like writing this book together you know.

Talking about style; the way this book is written makes it a very comfy read once you make peace with the soul search, because hardly any technical jargons are used. The book shows some indepth research, one which Martin also admits to carry out to learn how to better take care of his best friend. Indeed, Martin admits to have read far and wide, joined some associations and talked with lots of people both on and offline. Their book may be a guide no doubt but a very soulful and invaluable one. Fran Houston could have a Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis but she is every other friend too. Unconditional Friendship tested both in times of need and deed could not have been better demonstrated. I can’t but give this book a raving 5 star while recommending same without the least reservation to others be you well or unwell.

P.S:  Kindly Check out some previous posts about this memoir and its impact on me below

  1. Stabbed Soul…
  2. Five Reasons why I’ll finish reading…
  3. From Apprehension 2 Anticipation & Appreciation…
  4. Martin Baker My Model & Hero
  5. Interview of Co-Authors of HTLT P1 & P2

Questions to Co-authors of High Tide Low Tide: A Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder P2


High Tide Low Tide

Ok World, here we go with P2 while you could read P1 if you missed that

3) The Writing

  1. Did any books/memoirs influence your writing (style, presentation, content)? If yes, why?

Many books and writers inspired us! Although not a direct influence, the book most relevant to ours is Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder, by Julie A. Fast and John D. Preston. The Stigma Fighters Anthology, edited by Sarah Fader, inspired and challenged us to keep things honest in our writing.

  1. Did you have a writing mentor?

Not as such, but we had superb support throughout the writing process from many people. Without their help and guidance our book would not be what it is: indeed, it might never have been completed at all. Some people reviewed early drafts, others edited chapters, or suggested approaches to take with agents and publishers. It is hard to single out individuals (we recognise many in our Acknowledgements page) but we are especially grateful to Julie A. Fast and Rachel Kelly, who contributed so much, and gave generously of their time and expertise.

  1. Which was the most difficult chapter to write in your book and why?

The most challenging to write was chapter 2, “The Illness Experience: Understanding Your Friend’s Diagnosis and Symptoms.” I’d imagined it would be pretty straightforward to describe the illnesses Fran has to deal with (bipolar disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia). In fact, it involved a lot of research and editing to describe these complex conditions succinctly but accurately, and in a way relevant to our readers.

  1. Which if any was your favourite chapter to write and why?

Our favourite is chapter 7, “The ‘S’ Word: Being There When Your Friend Is Suicidal.” That might seem an odd choice, but it’s a topic we feel passionate about and wanted to cover as honestly and thoroughly as possible. We hope we have contributed to a wider conversation about suicide and suicidal thinking.

  1. Did you learn anything from writing your book and if yes, what was it?

Martin: I learned that writing a book and getting it published is hard work! Joking aside, our four year journey taught me a great deal on many different levels. I learned how to plan, write, and edit a book, and how to query literary agents and publishers. I took courses including Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). I read widely, focusing on personal accounts of mental illness. I also learned to listen. To Fran, yes, but also to other people. Meditation, NVC (Non-Violent Communication) and other techniques helped with that. I gained hugely in confidence. I learned I had a voice, and something worth speaking out about.

Fran: Absolutely! Writing this book I really opened myself up from a vulnerability standpoint, to share everything with the world. That was really scary but there was also a freedom that I gained from doing that. It also helps us in a practical way. Just the other day when I was in depression, Marty read to me from our chapter on depression and it helped remind me what we can do to shift out of it.

  1. How long did it take you to write and get the book published and why?

High Tide, Low Tide was published almost exactly four years after Fran first suggested the idea to me. That included planning, drafting, writing, researching, editing (and re-editing and re-editing!) the manuscript itself. It also included writing a full book proposal (which took far longer than I imagined it would), as well as querying literary agents and publishers. The later chapters draw heavily on our personal correspondence. It took a lot of time and effort to locate, organise and select from the many thousands of lines of our Skype, Facebook and text (SMS) messages, as well as letters, emails, and my personal journal. By the time we found our publisher (Nordland Publishing) our book was completely written and edited. Things moved ahead swiftly from there: High Tide, Low Tide was published within three months.

4) The Message

  1. Do you have any advice for other writers especially on challenging subjects like mental health?

My main advice is to keep it real. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to include everything but it does mean being honest about what you put in there. Can readers tell the difference? I think so. We are very open about how things are for us, both individually and as friends. We cover some challenging subjects including stigma, discrimination, rejection, mania, depression and suicidal thinking. We include transcripts of many of our conversations, so people can see first-hand how our friendship works under these kinds of challenge. We also include times when things didn’t go so well. That’s important because it would be wrong to give the impression I always know what to do, or handle things perfectly. We get things wrong all the time! Real life is messy. How you handle the messy bits and get back on track is what matters most.

  1. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Fran expressed it really well at the end of our book, highlighting the difference we can make if we are there for those we care about:

“There are many like me who live in invisible institutions of stigma, shame, and silence, the walls built by others from without, or by ourselves from within. Dismantling these walls invites connection. Be the gum on someone’s shoe who has one foot inside and one foot outside. Stick around. It may not be easy but you can help someone make a life worth living. Maybe even save a life. One little bit by one little bit. A smile, a wink, a hello, a listening ear, a helping hand, a friendship all work together to interrupt the grasp of illness. Be open and honest, with your friend and others you meet. Judge not, for misunderstandings abound. Acceptance, understanding, and kindness can pave another way. Let’s.”

One reader wrote to us and said, “Your journey as friends reminds us that mental illness doesn’t change what friendship is all about: being there for those we love.” That’s a great answer too!

  1. Any other writing projects, blogging etc?

We blog regularly at www.gumonmyshoe.com and elsewhere, including The Good Men Project, The Mighty, Time to Change, Men Tell Health, I’m NOT Disordered, and Julie A. Fast’s blog at bipolarhappens.com. Fran has written for the Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram. An open letter to her psychiatrist was published in The Maine Review. We love having guests on our blog, so if you’d like to write for us, check out our guidelines (www.gumonmyshoe.com/p/contact.html) and drop us a line!

  1. Where can your book be found?

High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and a wide range of other retailers. You can find further details and links on our website (www.gumonmyshoe.com/p/book.html).

Thank you very much Martin and Fran for answering my questions. I must admit your answers will genuinely help me write a comprehensive review of your epic book.

Questions to Co-authors of High Tide Low Tide: A Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder


High Tide Low Tide

 

Hello World, I love doing interviews with authors who have written on mental health, especially about their personal experiences living with any mental challenges or supporting someone living with them. It is with such profound feelings that I interview co-authors Martin Baker and Fran Houston. Their book High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder is probably to my soul like none other I have read before in this genre. I will be doing a review of their book in the following days but I wanted the authors to enlighten me and hopefully you my readers and followers some more.

1) The Profile

  1. Let’s start with a brief introduction of yourself, your background, and a tiny bit about your childhood:

I will go first (Martin). I was born in Liverpool in the north-west of England, where I lived until the age of eighteen. I graduated in Pharmacy from the University of Bradford in 1983 and spent the next three years doing postgraduate research at The Parkinson’s Disease Research Centre at King’s College London, before moving to Newcastle upon Tyne in 1987. I’ve lived here ever since. I had very little experience of mental illness until I met Fran online in May 2011. Despite us living three thousand miles apart, I am Fran’s main support and caregiver. Our transatlantic friendship has taught me a lot about living with illness, but more importantly about what it means to be a good friend.

Fran: Me next! I graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1991, and worked as a successful electrical engineer until I was overtaken by illness. I was diagnosed with major depression in 1994 and with bipolar disorder in 2003. I also have chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. I used to live on Peaks Island in Maine. Inspired by the island’s rich history, I interviewed and photographed long-time residents. The photos and interviews were exhibited locally and also published as For the Love of Peaks: Island Portraits and Stories, a Collection. This led to me appearing on Maine Public Broadcasting Network and National Public Radio to talk about my book and the challenges of living with illness. I was also a columnist with the Island Times. I was still living on Peaks Island when Marty and I met. I moved to Portland, Maine, in 1993. I love Portland and my many friends who love me dearly. I live with a beta fish named Jewells who often makes me laugh and gives me a reason for living.

2) The Soul Journey

  1. Martin, why? I mean, I have heard of a sibling who tried to help and even gave up, but I have never read of a friend of someone living with bipolar disorder.

That is really why we wrote our book, because there is nothing else out there specifically for friends. Each chapter starts with a question. The final chapter asks exactly what you just asked: “Why do you do it?” There isn’t one single answer. Our friendship enriches my life as much as it enriches Fran’s. I have gained so much in the time we have been friends. I believe I am a better person because of it. Ultimately, Fran is my best friend, and that’s what best friends do—they look out for each other.

  1. Fran, did you feel guilty at any point for your mental health and the impact it was having on your friendship? If yes what did you think or do, if no please explain for us.

This is a great question, Marie! I do wonder how Marty is doing when I’m not well but I never feel guilty about it with him. Not in my mania or in my depression. I have felt guilty about it with some others. Safety and guilt go together for me. I feel safe with Marty, that’s why I don’t feel guilty. With other people, I profusely apologized for myself and my behavior when I was manic, but I also expected them to be responsible for their behavior.

  1. Martin, can you tell us how your wife and son appreciate your having a friend like Fran, who could need you at any hour?

My family has been incredibly supportive, both of my friendship with Fran and the book we have brought out together. My wife contributed a piece to the book, and it is through my son that Fran and I found a publisher! More generally, they are very supportive of the help I am able to give to Fran and others, and the other work I do these days in the mental health arena, such as online work and volunteering with the UK anti-stigma charity Time to Change.

  1. Do you two think the distance is helping your friendship stay alive or killing it slowly?

In some ways living 3,000 miles apart limits our friendship. Fran can’t invite me round for a meal, say, or meet me in town for a coffee. I can’t help her with chores, fetch groceries, or give her a ride to appointments like I would if we lived in the same city. On the other hand, we get to share a great deal just as easily as if we lived close together. Social media and instant messaging mean we are never really out of touch. We meet on webcam almost every day. We talk (a lot!), watch movies and read books together. In some ways it enhances our relationship. As long as there’s an internet signal we can connect, no matter what time of day it is, where we might be (at home, out about town, on vacation etc.) or what we might be doing.

  1. Do you have any candid advice to friends of people with a bipolar disorder diagnosis? I will appreciate advice from each of you.

Martin: The key advice I’d offer is to keep the channels of communication open. For us that means daily chat conversations and Skype calls. That might be too much for some people, but however you “do the talking thing,” be someone your friend knows will be there for them no matter what happens. (And yes, that might include taking a phone call or responding to a message in the middle of the night.) Be someone your friend can trust not to turn away when things get rough. How do you do that? We sum it up as “Be who you are. Do what you can. Embrace the journey.” Don’t try and be someone you are not. You don’t have to do everything. Find your role in your friend’s support team and make it yours. There will be some bad times for sure, but also lots of good times. Share it all.

Fran: Three things come to mind. Commit yourself to your own self-care, keep healthy boundaries, and have understanding and empathy. Self-care means remembering to take care of your needs as well as your friend’s. Like taking some time off if you need it, or having someone to talk to or support you when things are hard. Keeping healthy boundaries is linked with self-care. What happens sometimes is friends get all enmeshed with the bipolar person. Someone manic can be interesting and exciting, but it can be toxic if you are not careful. Healthy boundaries means being aware of what is going on and not doing things you don’t want to do just to keep them happy. It’s ok to say no. Don’t go down the drain with your bipolar friend! Understanding and empathy means listening to your friend, to what is happening with them, and not trying to fix things or do everything….

Stop by on Wednesday for Part 2 of this exciting and yet so soulful interview

From Apprehension 2 Anticipation & Appreciation: My journey reading High Tide Low Tide…


Hi world, anybody who has visited my blog this past 10 days or so, may rightly think I am obsessed with this book. Yes I am, to a very large though healthy extent. I have never come across a book like this, one which stabbed my soul, made me cry and laugh and curse, and praise, and envy, and shun, deal and heal, and and and ad infinitum…

Yes, from initial acceptance to read and review the book; Apprehension crept in just after the introduction. Hmm, what can I tell you? It may not rock your boat so and that is the whole point – about mental illness. A few will care and many will care less.

But, and yes, the above book did rock my mind big time; I almost gave up reading the book and got different advice when I reached out for some here on my blog. Finally, I found five good reasons why I should read on.

Anticipation set in and I started being amused at the indepth of this particular reading trip. I didn’t want to hurry because I came to realize the book wasn’t so long and technical as I had apprehended. But, I equally didn’t want to be any slow because I anticipated some soul searching discoveries  (like what was the deal with doing laundry) and hopefully a happy ending. I wasn’t disappointed both ways.

Now, a little bit about my fascination with this book. I had a best friend as a child, my only brother with whom I learnt to play football and fight for in school…at age 11, he got epilepsy. He moved on, I was there but after a few years he was sent to Germany for further studies. He had brains…but the nurological disorder bashed those brains big time…fast forward USA June 2014, I finally learn he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder a few years prior… I hate writing about this whole era  – HE DIED AUGUST 2, 2014 IN BOSTON (I thought publishing a whole book will lay it to rest…nada). So, dear readers, if you do some calculus and philosophize, plus the fact that am one who has been through her own share of shit, and have a few friends going through theirs, you will largely appreciate my fascination with the book.

I heartily congratulate and appreciate the authors and thank them for writing the book. I will do a formal review in the coming days, may be before or after I interview the authors…the book is mind you revealing of so much soul so I will see…

Five Reasons why I’ll finish reading High Tide Low Tide…


High Tide Low Tide

Let me think seriously about how or what am going to write in this post – my truth from within my soul…

I have a very good memory, indeed even some events when I was 2 years old are still stacked clearly up there. Books I have all along read, I have since lost count, but still see so many covers flipping through my head and the first xcel sheet I kept with all those titles. And yet, I can’t recall any book I picked up to read and couldn’t proceed because I felt my soul stabbed!!! Here comes the above book, a sort of innocently captivating title right? I mean a very resourceful book if you’ll ask me. So what now?  Let me just write a short paragraph of some of the words which kept stabbing my soul when I tried read the first chapter:

Guilt, Incompetent, Unfortunate, Helpless, Sad, Uneasy, Fake, Farce, Hard, Difficult, Perfect, Imperfect, Irony, Sarcasm, Loser, Bother, Honesty, Failure, Victim, Apprehension, Doom, Darkness, Pain, Memories…

Indeed, the same me who had just a day earlier told the author I was honoured to review the book when approached, couldn’t even read another paragraph. Five days have since past since I got the ARC, I have written about my dilemma and recived invaluable advice and remarks and all; I honestly told Martin the author I was finding reading the book challenging and he was simply put Gracious in very few words. I have decided to continue reading the book – and will honestly review same when I get to the end. Here are five reasons why:

  1. I gave my word: My word is my bond, I have tried to not take my word as seriously in life, but I recently discovered that taking our words seriously is actually one of our personality traits. I am a Consul, in the Sentinel category and my stategy is People Mastery – ah what a personality trait and all. Anyway, I also love when people keep their word to me although I have come to make peace with myself that it ain’t my fault when they don’t;
  2. This book has made me take a personality test: I don’t know how many people have started a book and put it down to take a personality test before resuming reading! I have never done this and gosh it took a book innocently thrust my way to get me to this. I not only took the test, I went premium all the way to learn about my trait and other traits, my trait’s strength and weaknesses, many whys answered, many how tipped on and hmm so much. Thank you HT LT – who knows what else I’ll do before I finish reading you?
  3. I’ll even be getting a hard copy for my home library: Here again another first. I have reviewed so many books, a few times because the authors approached me. I have never gotten a hard copy probably for logistics reasons, but I have equally never asked for one until now. Don’t mind that with my first and I now admit very poignant memoir titled My Unconventional loves…I did mail out 5 or so copies to ‘reviewers’ I contacted online and who said I had to send them a copy… I was new to the business, was chasing reviews and was living in Belgium with a better mailing system than back in Cameroon…indeed that bool HT LT will be mailed from the UK to the US and sent through someone coming to Cameroon when the opportunity arises… that’s us, take it or leave it… Martin Baker took it and out of respect for him I’ll not just let him off to muse like I did, when none of those 5 reviewers who got my book didn’t even bother to even reply my querry;
  4. Martin Baker is a gracious Gentleman (I don’t care how old he is): The day I downloaded the ARC and read just the introduction, I put my kindle down and sent him an email with the first snippet of my apprehension. My guess/calculation going by time is, he read that before sending me a smiley on facebook messenger. None of us replied to the other. Am sure he prayed I didn’t give up just yet, while I sincerely wished I found the courage not to. I then braved on an finished part one, and the dread dregged me on. I let him know once again but told him I seriously wanted to try reading on. See his Gracious words: “Thank you for persevering with the book, i will be very interested in your thoughts”. Isn’t this so gentlemanly? and so I have come to realize the fifth and most important reason am reading this book is for me;
  5. It’s healing and making peace with and for me; and learning to be and do better for others: I watched a movie last night (one luxury I fortunately can manage with the boys being on vacation), titled “A Cross to Bear”. Don’t ask why that one and not another given I have a dozen or more in my library – some say am a ‘mini psychic’ lol. Anyway, the movie line (cause am going to do a review later I want and need to), is that a woman who opens her home to rescue abused or recovering from ‘something’ youn girls, gets to realize she was doing that out of guilt and had to start doing it out of love. Now, with regards to reading this book HT LT, a few other moments in my life ‘guilt over my brother’s demise‘ and not ‘out of love for myself or others in similar situations, has been my hidden motive.

In conclusion therefore, because this book from every indication is so resourceful, I mean I have all the 19 reviews it has on the amazon; because I need to do this for me and for healing and doing the best I can for others living with a mental illness or mental challenge, I will finish reading the book. I am even consoled and motivated by some lines from one of the reviews I found helpful on the amazon written by AngryGnome “…This book is not light hearted reading…But in spite of the serious nature of the illness, it is not depressing, as it is filled with hope, humour and more than a touch of beauty”.

Thank you Martin Baker for contacting me with the request to do a review of your book… you are a gentleman and indeed an invaluable friend to Fran Houston. It may be a slowread, but it’ll hopefully be a good and healing read – I look forward to reviewing same – indeed it’ll be an honour.

Book Review: Bipolar Disorder My Biggest Competitor by Amy Gamble


Just like in a boxing ring, Amy took many blows but still won


This memoir is not only captivating to me because it sheds so much light on mental illness especially on bipolar disorder; but it is equally captivating because of the author’s life and journey itself. With this said, I confess that once I started reading this soulful and resourceful memoir,  I didn’t put it down until I finished. It took me 8 hours to read, I was on the go and actually grateful for the traffic.

This is a memoir which shares the author’s resilence as she in her own words ‘refuse to relinquish the title of my life to mental illness’. A game of basketball or team handball or raquetball is easy to play because there are clear rules of the game. No matter how fierce the competition in these games, you know after the game life goes on and you can compete in other encounters and lose with dignity or win why not. No, not with mental illness. First of all it is no game although it plays you around like on a chess board. Secondly, if to be compared to any game, it is in my opinion best like boxing. Amy herself tells how in the ring with bipolar disorder, ‘my face was bloody, my eyes blackened, my nose broken, and my pride destroyed’. The bravado here is that: ‘Each time I got knocked down, I got back up again’.

Amy Gamble is an Olympian and so staying on top of her game, being in good spirits and shape were very important to her. Indeed, when the signs and symptoms started setting in, so too did denial big time. Who Me? No way was her fierce reasoning. Yes mental illness could run in her family even if never talked about you know, yes she could burst with such unquenchable energy to literally move mountains and other times sink into such debilitating depression, but no she couldn’t come to terms with the words bipolar disorder. The erratic life and actions on the spur in several instances, the wanderings and all which caused her two painful run ins with the law and a sting in jail not to talk of the massive financial and emotional devastation still didn’t sink in well with her. She near gave up especially after losing so many close people like her dad and co, her loyal dogs and even some invaluable relationships.

At the 8th or 9th round, the bloodied athlete in her through a series of divine interventions and other circumstances, started to recover. She looked her opponent in the eye, felt the bruises through her body, spirit and soul, grieved for what was and what should have been, and then gave her opponent the final blow. I say final blow because even though bipolar disorder is still out there and can rear up its dragon self anytime, Amy is fully prepared for any further competitions. The light Amy Gamble sheds on mental illness not only lightens our paths but hers above all.

About Amy Gamble

Amy Gamble

Amy Gamble is a small town girl who has always had big time dreams. She followed those dreams all the way to the Olympic Games. Facing competitors on a world stage, she learned how determination could overcome all the odds against her. Amy needed that strength and those lessons when she faced the biggest challenge in her life-bipolar disorder. Amy is now the Executive Director of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) of Greater Wheeling. She is a Certified Mental Health First Aid instructor and a mental health speaker. Amy has over 18 years experience working for Fortune 500 companies in sales, marketing and leadership. Amy has a M.A. in Organizational Management and a B.A. in Communication. Her mission in life is to help those who live with mental illness and their family members find help and hope. She strives to eliminate stigma by sharing openly her struggles and triumphs of living with bipolar disorder and educating audiences of all ages.

postscript

I am very honoured to write this review. When I discovered Amy’s blog and reached out to her to write a forward to my own memoir about my mental challenges, she did so the same day. I didn’t know Amy was past 50 years, she looks like 45 at most. Amy’s story is indeed a captivating one, the closest to any celebrity’s own I have read about their journey and battle with mental illness.

An interesting editorial Review (found on the amazon)

“Amy Gamble is a champion for mental health, advocating for awareness, improved care and the removal of stigma. In her book, she painstakingly describes the details of her own battle with bipolar disorder that led her from the U.S. Olympic team to a prosperous career for a top Fortune 500 company to a small jail cell in Montana and — eventually — to recovery. Amy’s firsthand experiences with the obstacles of our own health care and justice systems are chilling. And just when you think her nightmare has to be over, it starts all over again. You come to understand that mental illness truly levels the field: No amount of money, prestige or physical strength can protect you from it. But her survival instinct, her faith in God, and the work ethic she developed growing up on a West Virginia farm and honed as an Olympic athlete kept her trudging onward through her darkest days. The book is in part a cautionary tale — a “what not to do” — for the health care industry, as well as for families of those who are mentally ill and sick individuals themselves. Above all, it is a story of Amy’s redemption, a reclaiming of the life she thought she lost and the emerging of a true champion who dares to dream again. Mental illness won far too many battles in Amy’s life, but through her own education, proper care and sheer determination, she won the war. By sharing her story, she has ensured that her struggles were not in vain and many people will benefit from her victory.”      –Betsy Bethel, Life Editor, The Intelligencer and WheWheelingNews-Register

 

My Son’s book review of A Searching Soul by Marie Abanga (Me)


Alain's review SS

Kindle Cover

This is the first review of my poetry book which is on the amazon at the very afordable price of 0.89$ for kindle and 5 $ for paperback.

Thank you so much my e family and big shout out to all the authors in the house especially Pamela Spiro Wagner whose poetry reading I just so love, and  Dyane Leshin-Harwood whose epic memoir will be released very soon.